Teen killed in police lobby suffered from 'mental illness,' says relative

LONGVIEW, Texas. -- The Longview teenager who was shot dead by police inside the lobby of a police department was believed to be suffering from mental illness, including depression and bipolar disorder.

Longview police said officers fatally shot 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard, who walked into the Longview Police Department lobby after threatening them with a weapon Thursday, Jan. 22, reported Marshall News Messenger.

Police spokesperson Kristie Brian said Coignard walked into the building Thursday night, picked up an assistance phone, that connects directly to dispatch, and called for help. When officers responded, the woman brandished a weapon. When she "came at the officers," she was shot "multiple times."

Many details, however, have yet to be released regarding the case, including what type of weapon Coignard had used to threaten the officers.

Coignard had been living with her Aunt, Heather Robertson, who questions the circumstances of her niece's death.

Speaking to political blog Think Progress, Robertson said the her niece had been struggling with mental illness since her mother had died when she was four. Coignard had suffered from both depression and bipolar disorder, and had been hospitalized twice after two suicide attempts. One attempt to hang herself; another attempt by drinking toilet bowl cleaner.

Robertson said, though, that Coignard "was only violent with herself," having no previous criminal record. Coignard had been seeing a therapist since December and taking medication.

"I think it was a cry for help. I think they could have done something," Robertson told Think Progress. "They are grown men. I think there is something they are not telling us."

The night of Coignard's death, Robertson said she spoke with police for about 30 minutes, but was provided with few details and no updates since. Robertson was told that video of the incident exists, which was also confirmed by Brian, but that has not been released to anyone yet as the Texas Rangers continue to investigate.

Brian told Marshall News that at the time Coignard was shot, the station was relatively empty, with only a few civilian employees and police. When officers were called to return to the station, they came rushing from all over.

"Some of the officers were called to the station because they had to have officers to secure the scene," she said. "I am sure whenever they heard shots fired, officers are going to come running anyway."

Police officials could not confirm the type of weapon Coignard had brandished, though Longview Mayor Jay Dean said he was told that a "female wielding a knife entered into the police department," according to Marshall News.

Marshall News reported that three officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid leave pending an investigation made by Texas Rangers. The three officers have not been identified.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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